Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday joined an opposition-led onslaught on the government, demanding the removal of Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia for releasing “flawed” figures that underestimate poverty in the country.
Yadav — who came and spoke for the first time in Lok Sabha since the decisive victory in Uttar Pradesh assembly — said though his party supported the UPA coalition, this was not an issue on which he could back the government.
Members of other parties supporting the Congress-led coalition — the DMK, BSP and Trinamool Congress — also spoke out against the figures, which many MPs called “a cruel joke” on the poor.
The plan panel had estimated that the poverty ratio had declined from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 29.8% in 2009-10. These were based on the daily per capita consumption of R28.65 in urban cities and Rs. 22.42 in rural areas in 2009-10.
The SP chief said the Planning Commission's report was completely incorrect. “They do not have any idea of village or rural life. They live in AC rooms and make their report on the basis of reading some papers,” the SP leader said, insisting that 65% of the people were poor.
The opposition attack, which centred on demands for Ahluwalia's removal, was led by Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Prabodh Panda (CPI) and Sushma Swaraj (BJP).
V Arun Kumar of the Congress alleged that the opposition was trying to mislead the country. “You can disagree with the estimates, but do not make it seem like you represent the poor and we do not,” he said.